Can Max Verstappen go five from five when F1 heads to Monza this weekend? Darry Worthington previews.
Italian Grand Prix
Sunday 11 September
Autodromo Nazionale Monza
The Red Bull ace was at the centre of controversy last weekend as he and Lewis Hamilton renewed their long-standing spat with Hamilton suggesting the only reason Verstappen has been so successful of late is down to the car he is driving.
The heat will certainly be on when F1 heads to Italy this weekend!
To Win Race:
Max Verstappen 7/20
Charles LeClerc 6/1
Lewis Hamilton 9/1
George Russell 10/1
Sergio Perez 12/1
The Dutch Grand Prix was one of strategy with a smart pit stop from Red Bull seeing Max Verstappen claiming his fourth successive race victory.
While Red Bull’s pit strategy was right on the money, the same can’t really be said about Mercedes who opted to pit George Russell under the virtual safety car and leave Hamilton out on track. While Russell would go on to claim second place, his teammate – who looked in with a real chance of winning at Zandvoort – dropped down to fourth with Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc making short work of Hamilton, who was still on the medium compound tires.
The battle for the remaining berths in the top six was made all the more interesting due to Carlos Sainz’ time penalty for an unsafe release during his second pit stop. Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso were the two men to benefit from the penalty with Perez taking fifth and Alonso claiming sixth.
Lando Norris was also a beneficiary of the Sainz pit blunder as he took seventh spot, while the rest of the top ten comprised of Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll, both of whom provided great viewing in the battle for ninth place.
Track - Autodromo Nazionale Monza
The circuit has gone through several redevelopments since it was opened in 1922, mainly in a bid to improve safety.
The 5.793km long track is situated in the Royal Villa of Monza park – this park has provided a fantastic backdrop for many a classic Formula one action shot.
Drivers will go head-to-head over 53 laps, which sees them cover a total of 306.729km.
Although the track has been turned into a much more sedate beast over the years, it still has some treacherous aspects to it.
Whilst Monza holds significantly fewer corners to challenge the drivers compared to Spa, it still poses a few of the most infamous turns in F1.
Parabolica, in particular, poses a threat; this 180-degree bend is famous for inducing the odd high-speed crash.
Another challenge for drivers is the Variante Ascari sequence which is a culmination of turns eight, nine and ten.
The two DRS activation zones are located on the start/finish straight and the straight between turn seven and eight.
With the Hamilton versus Verstappen feud close to reaching boiling point, it’s rather interesting to note that an incident between the drivers at Monza last year forced both to retire.
Daniel Ricciardo took full advantage of their exit from the race as he brought his car across the line in first. He was joined on the podium by teammate Lando Norris while Valterri Bottas claimed third.
In terms of the weather for the weekend, there’s a bit of rain floating around with Friday’s practice sessions set to see the worst of the weather conditions.
Fernado Alonso – Podiaum Finish: Yes @ 16/1
The last three races at Monza have seen some interesting podiums with a number of outsiders landing in the top three. This is why I’m going to go value hunting with a punt on Alonso for a podium. The Alpine man has been in decent form in recent weeks finishing sixth last weekend and fifth at Spa.
To Win Race Outright
Lewis Hamilton @ 9/1 *this preview was written before Hamilton’s grid penalty.
This is a race Hamilton has enjoyed a boatload of success on having won five of the last nine Italian Grand Prix. With Mercedes making solid improvement on their top-end speed and Verstappen having struggled at Monza in the past, a Hamilton win could well be the shrewd move here at a proper price.